Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year With My Camera

I read about this challenge on Google Plus, to choose what you think are your Ten Best Photos of 2013, and post them in a blog.  I decided to do this, as I was able to pick up my first DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) back in early February 2013.  I thought this would be a good way of looking back and seeing not only what I had done, but how far I'd come in my skills. Most of you know I love taking and sharing pictures - it is my passion to share my original material.

So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Photos, with a short story behind each photo.

I stitched these photos together to make one - but that is due to the subject matter.  The cloud photo I took a couple of years ago with my Sony Mavica DSLR.  It wasn't until late February of this year - about a week after I got my new Canon DSLR that I took the photo of Phineas, my cat. The cloud photo had always put me in mind of my cat's profile; as soon as I saw what I had taken in February - of my actual cat - I knew I had to find some way of putting these two together as a sort of mirror image.

This is a Tufted Titmouse, and the photo was taken in my backyard during the first week of March.  Probably one of the few times we didn't get snow dumped on us, or so it seemed!  He had just snatched a peanut from the feeder, and I got to use my telephoto lens to pick him out.  Very happy with how this turned out!

When I saw this pic of the full moon in April of this year as I was going through all the shots I'd attempted to take, I thought for one incredibly, crazy moment that the SD Card I was using had come with some "stock photos" on it - out of every attempt, this is the only one that showed up with such incredible clarity.  I'll take it!

Although I have no Mimosa trees in my yard, one day in late June I was visiting my son and his apartment complex was just full of these trees.  I already knew about the photography rules - when to shoot and when NOT to shoot - and this was one of those times that the sun was not your friend.  But I fiddled with the settings on the camera and made sure I was in the shade, and concentrated more on the macro shot - and was very happy to have this come out with such clarity and color.

In the middle of July, I finally got my setup complete (light tent, lights, assortment of backgrounds) to photograph the jewelry that I make.  This was a new step on my learning curve - how to set the camera with the lights, how the tent diffused the lights, how different textures of gray for the background work with the coolness of a photo (kelvin, or degrees of a photographic temperature) and playing around with the f-stop to make the front of the item in focus, and soften the back part of it.  I have a lot more photos to take, but if even half of them turned out this well, I'd be very, very happy!

On the same day I was shooting some of my jewelry pictures, I was between takes and turned around for just a moment...and our cat, Loki walked into the light tent and sat on the piece of slate I had inside.  The lights were still on and I was struck by how good he looked so...I started snapping away.  He makes a rather marvelous model when he's sitting still, doesn't he?

Throughout August, September and October of this year, my butterfly bush was inundated with butterflies of many kinds.  I had a chance to get a lot of photos, just by walking out very carefully and slowly to the bush, until one day when I decided I didn't really need the telephoto lens, I could just walk among them - and that's exactly what I did!  In this photo, I can see that every part of the butterfly and the plant is in focus, and that's a bit difficult to achieve because most of the time, they were constantly moving and feeding and fluttering.  This is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

This and the next picture are from our September trip to the west coast of Ireland.  We had a spectacular and wonderful time there, and plan to return if it is at all in the cards!  We came upon this man and his son standing and waiting for the waves to roll in at Oldhead Beach in Co. Mayo.  I do not know who they are, but the stance of both of them against the ocean spoke volumes to me.

This was one of the more surreal evenings we spent in Ireland.  We found a bed and breakfast in Tralee, and this view was at the end of the walking loop nearby, looking out over Tralee Bay.  It is the sunset and showers over the bay all in one.  It was so windy, we could barely stand upright, and I was pleasantly surprised when my pictures turned out. When they tell you about the green in Ireland (and you will never, ever get tired of looking at it), what they don't mention is that it's even in the clouds.  Look at those rays - they are tinted green and I can promise you that it's not due to post processing my pictures, because I don't do more than crop and maybe a little exposure/color editing with my photos.  I don't have any PP software!  It's safe to say this is completely unretouched.

My final photo is this one, taken in mid-November at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri.  We are fortunate to have this migratory stopover for waterfowl so close to us, and now that I had my "good camera", I was looking forward to getting some great pics.  My husband spotted this bird - from our previous trip up there and seeing mostly the all brown juvenile birds, I had completely forgotten to look for the white-headed adults!  I was very, very happy to come home with this exposure in my collection of shots.

I hope you have enjoyed taking this photographic journey along with me, and please stick around for more - one of my intentions for 2014 is to learn much more about using my camera, and maybe this year I will look for a longer telephoto lens for my camera.  It will be interesting to see what else I can get "up close and personal" to!

Happy New Year everyone!